Summit County names Silverthorne man as new housing authority director
May 18, 2017
When Jason Dietz moved to Summit County in the summer of 2012, he received the same rude welcome that greets many newcomers while searching for housing for his family.
Initially deciding on Dillon Valley so his wife could start a new job, they would move to Summit Cove after just a year before finally landing with their two young children at their home in Silverthorne another year after that. Despite several years in the Reno-Tahoe area before the relocation, Dietz did not necessarily anticipate the challenges of finding housing in the resort community when they first arrived, nearly leading to them leave altogether.
"When we first moved here, a friend told me, 'Welcome to Summit County, where you make less and pay more,'" Dietz recalled. "I didn't quite get it until we lived here longer how true that was. We bounced around a little bit, and it took a little while — just going through the process of finding the right place for a family with a dog is hard in Summit County."
It's this relatable experience for locals, spanning longtime residents to those who have more recently come to live the mountain life, that Dietz is now charged with helping to improve. After more than seven months looking for new leadership, the county and its partner towns named him the new executive director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority.
Dietz, 44, is originally from small-town Nebraska, about 60 miles south of Kearney, receiving his bachelor's in natural resource management from the home of the Cornhuskers. To help pay for college, however, he could usually be found out in the construction yard, which quickly led him down the path of the housing industry after graduation rather than pursuing his master's to become an environmental consultant as he'd originally planned.
He first took a job with Pulte Homes in Phoenix, starting in customer service before promotions to superintendent of land development and then project manager. Dietz took on a similar position with a Reno-based developer, eventually securing the title of vice president and gaining experience in all aspects of building and managing housing projects. But he'd always loved Colorado and when the housing downturn struck in the late-2000s, they made the leap after his wife landed a job in Silverthorne.
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Following 20-plus years in the industry, including some years as property manager turned general manager for Wildernest Property Management in the county — watching over more than 3,000 units across about 80 HOAs — Dietz has now found his latest professional home. In the new role, starting May 31, he will take the reins of the community-wide agency created to aid individuals with finding attainable places to live.
"I can absolutely feel the pain of those going through that situation," said Dietz. "I know that things have gotten worse, and definitely understand how frustrating and how hard it is having to go through that process. And that's typical of resort communities, as it's a highly desirable area for people to be and a lot of people are coming up here, because they're usually relatively small and there's not a lot of available, affordable housing."
Dietz originally applied for the county's housing director job, finishing as the runner-up in that search to Nicole Bleriot. Now, because she was acting as the interim housing authority director, he'll actually replace her so she can return her full attention to that development role for Summit County government.
After another candidate for the housing authority gig accepted in April but then backed out due to the area's lack of obtainable housing, the agency was pleased to come back across Dietz. Given his extensive history with housing — most recently as a senior construction manager for Dillon-based Compass Homes since November — members of its board believe he's an ideal fit.
"It's not the easiest thing to do, working for an authority that has five bosses out there," said Breckenridge town manager Rick Holman, who is also a member of the housing authority board. "It takes a balance of the different needs of different communities, and Jason has a lot of experience in doing that. We like that part about him, and his background working for Wildernest for rental properties as a property manager and a lot of experience working with HOAs and boards, that told us a lot.
"All of those are great assets," added Holman, "plus he was already here right in our backyard, so we're excited about that, too."
Dietz will wrap up his work with Compass over the next two weeks. That's when he'll be able to turn his focus toward the housing authority and settling on specific responsibilities its board wants him to make priorities en route to becoming a one-stop shop for all things housing in Summit County.
"The next step is to understand all of the projects and programs, and where the housing authority is with what's on the hopper to implement the next strategy," said Dietz. "Ultimately I want to help facilitate families currently in the house-hopping process finding reliable, affordable housing to keep the good people of Summit County in Summit County, working and being the great community that we are."